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Toolkit Provides Resources for Teaching Consent in Grades K-5

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Wednesday, February 2, 2022   

A new toolkit for kids in kindergarten through fifth grade provides resources for teaching about issues of consent and healthy relationships.

The Michigan Organization on Adolescent Sexual Health created the toolkit to help parents, caregivers, educators and young students understand how to start those conversations. Jamie Erdheim, consent culture coordinator with MOASH, said it's important for children as young as 4 and 5 to start learning about issues of consent, personal boundaries, bodily autonomy and healthy communication.

"Especially girls, right? Especially LGBTQ youth, especially youth of color - many of them experience sexual violence by the time they are finished with high school," Erdheim said. "So, if you're starting that education with everyone in high school, it's too late."

One in four girls and one in 13 boys experiences sexual abuse at some time during childhood. Erdheim said it's important for elementary students to have an understanding of what consent is - not only to prevent abuse, but so they can share with a trusted adult if they need support.

Erdheim said there's a common misconception that consent education is only about sex, but noted there are many other contexts for it, and many that are relevant to younger kids.

"For K-through-5 it could be, like, ask for permission before you touch someone's things," Erdheim said. "That's consent education. Or if someone takes something of yours, how are you communicating about it?"

The toolkit also contains recommendations for standards that consent education should meet. It has links to videos, books and websites that can be useful for teaching about these topics, as well as community resources for violence prevention, mental health, sexual health and LGBTQ-plus advocacy.

Disclosure: Michigan Organization on Adolescent Sexual Health contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues, LGBTQIA Issues, Reproductive Health, Youth Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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